14 Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed. 15 But some of them said, “By Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” 16 Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven. 17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. 18 If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. 19 Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 20 But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21 “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. 22 But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder. 23 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 24 “When an evil spirit comes out of anyone, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
This passage is about Jesus’ authority. Is he casting out demons by Satan’s authority or God’s?
Jesus soundly refutes the argument that he is casting out demons by Satan’s power, but then presents them with an alternative. If he is doing it by the “finger of God”, then the kingdom of God has come upon them. He is issuing a challenge, demanding a response. No response, or sitting on the fence, means that they are against him – “whoever is not with me is against me”. This theme continues in vv 24 – 26. A demon cast out, but not replaced, is able to return to the void left behind. However, if this space is filled with the Holy Spirit instead the demon is unable to return. Again, a response is required.
I had two thoughts about this passage. One is a reminder that Jesus is always in authority, and is more powerful than Satan. He has “overpowered the strong man”. Secondly, he requires a response from us. Do I read scripture and not let it affect or change me in any way, or am I always looking to grow because of what I read?
“Thank you Lord, that you have won the victory. Thank you for the scriptures you gave us. Help me to grow day by day as I read them.”
Written by Megan Cornell